March 1, 2023
How to Pollen-Proof Your Home from Oak
The beginning of oak season is here, and allergy sufferers across the country are feeling the effects of it. There are over 600 different varieties of oak trees around the world, and at least 90 are native to North America, so you’re sure to have some near you. Because oak is such a common allergen, even for those who don’t typically suffer from allergies, it stirs up quite a bit of trouble when it begins pollinating.
First, let’s get some general questions out of the way.
When is oak season?
Oak season typically begins around late February and continues into early May, peaking in March. If you want to see when oak season starts in your specific area, download our free allergy calendar!
What does an oak tree look like?
Oak trees are big, lofty trees mainly used for shade and known for the acorns they produce. They can be found all across the United States. These trees are commonly found in neighborhoods, shopping centers, and near rivers and lakes. They’re also known for the considerable amounts of pollen they shed during their pollination season.
How do I know if I am allergic to oak?
Oak trees pollinate during the spring, also known as "tree allergy season" because it’s around the time when many other trees, such as cottonwood, elm, and ash trees, begin pollinating too. These trees could also be the cause of your constant sniffles and sneezes. It’s a good idea to take an allergy test to pinpoint exactly which trees are causing you to suffer because there are many other trees pollinating around this time.
Symptoms of an oak allergy:
Common symptoms of an oak allergy can look similar to those of allergic rhinitis. This can include:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Constant sneezing
- Scratchy throat
- Coughing or wheezing
- Allergy fatigue
- Post-nasal drip
If you’re feeling one or more of these, it could be due to an oak allergy. Try these prevention tips and see if your symptoms get better or worse. If they continue to get worse, it may be worth seeing a doctor or allergist.
So I have an oak allergy…How do I help it?
Start in the home; let’s pollen-proof it!
While this may be an article on how to pollen-proof your home for oak, these tips will help with allergies, including some indoor allergens!
Stop inviting allergens into your home.
- Every day we walk outside and pick up pollen, whether we want to or not. It collects in our hair, on our clothes, on our shoes, and even on our eyelids and skin. It’s inevitable. What we can control is whether or not we bring it into our home. Something as small as removing our shoes when we walk in the door can help decrease the pollen buildup in our home. Be sure to vacuum this area frequently as well.
- If you already have a no-shoes policy in your home, it’s time to level up. Try removing outerwear in addition to your shoes. Jackets, coats, hats, scarves, and anything else that has been exposed to the elements should be washed right away. Putting a hamper in a nearby closet can help ease you into this process. This is a win-win situation as there is no laundry laying out across your home, and you’re being allergy-friendly!
- Let’s say you went for a long hike through the wilderness, maneuvering through the trees and greenery. You definitely have a lot of pollen on you, even if you can’t see it. In situations where you’ve been outside for prolonged periods of time or on especially windy days, shower after coming in. You’ll be so surprised at how different you feel when you’re not sitting in pollen! Be sure to wash your hair, as your hair can collect loads of pollen and keep it trapped. And if you have any skin allergies, wash with a mild, fragrance-free cleanser.
We’re pollen-free inside the home; now what?
Lucky for you, the oak season is just in time for spring cleaning! Let’s get our bucket and rag and get this cleaning done!
- Vacuum. You’re probably doing it wrong. The first step is using a vacuum that works for you. Specifically, a vacuum that has HEPA filtration to trap even the smallest pollen particles. The second step is vacuuming the right way. When we push the vacuum out, it’s not necessarily picking up anything; it's more about setting up the vacuum in the correct position to then pull. The pulling motion is responsible for picking up and cleaning. Keep this in mind when you’re vacuuming next, and maybe even try slowing down on the pulling motion to really focus on picking up dirt and pollen.
- If pollen particles can get so stuck in our hair, imagine how much is getting caught in your upholstered furniture like couches and chairs. Pay extra-special attention to these areas. Try vacuuming, steam cleaning, or washing slipcovers if you have them.
- If you thought your couches were bad, wait until you see this. Wall-to-wall carpet. We know carpets can be the black hole of every allergy; from pollen to pet hair to dust, it's all jam-packed in there. The worst thing about carpet is that it’s not only stuck in there, but every single time you walk across it, all of those allergen particles re-release into the air, forming an endless cycle. If you can ditch the wall-to-wall carpet for something a little more allergy-friendly like hardwood or tile, where allergens can be swept up properly, it may be worth it, for your allergies sake. If not, find a good vacuum, like we suggested in our tip above. If you vacuum frequently and follow the rest of the tips to deter allergens before you step into the home, having carpet shouldn’t be that big of an issue.
- Up your sleep game. Tired of not getting enough sleep due to congestion and not being able to breathe? Try an air purifier. Air purifiers are a game changer when it comes to eliminating allergens from the air. While they can be anywhere in your home, they are great in the bedroom. Remember, when shopping for air purifiers, the higher the CADR, or clean air delivery rate, the faster the system will actually be able to purify the air.
- Wash your bedding. Especially if you allow your pets to sleep on your bed. Surprise! Pets can bring in unwanted pollen as well, and if you don’t catch your pet at the door to wipe them off every time, there’s a good chance they’re tracking in pollen. Just make it a habit of washing your bedding once a week, and always wash it in hot, soapy water. Not only does it keep your bed clean, but also means no pollen, and no dust mites, which thrive in warm, humid climates like your mattress.
- Last but certainly not least, keep doors and windows closed! This is probably the easiest prevention tip, yet one that we tend to forget about once the warm spring air hits. This is especially important during oak season because it’s very common to have an oak tree in your yard, so the close proximity and the breeze can blow a lot of pollen into your home. This is true for your inside your car as well; it’s best to just run the A/C.
Let’s take a look outside your home.
- Are your allergies really worth getting rid of your 20-year-old oak tree? It depends on how bad your allergies are. But the truth is, because most allergens are wind-pollinated—meaning that they spread their pollen grains into the air—you’re most likely not going to feel any relief by removing one tree from your lawn, especially if the rest of your neighborhood is full of them. This isn't to say you should begin planting all allergy-inducing plants in your lawn.Instead, think about sprucing up your yard with allergy-friendly trees like dogwood trees, magnolia trees, tulip trees, or even lemon trees! You can also find low-pollen plants like cacti, geraniums, azaleas, roses, and tulips.
We hope these tips help you prep your home for this upcoming spring allergy season. When it comes to oak season, it can be stressful and overwhelming at times. We know allergies are miserable, but your home doesn’t have to be misery-inducing either. Maintain your home as a safe haven for rest and recuperation. If you’re tired of having to put allergies first in your life, come and see us. Our team is dedicated to finding a solution that works for you, so you can enjoy your life without allergies. Book an appointment online today!